FMCSA Clarifies Ag Exemptions for Horse and Livestock Haulers

Lindsey Bergeron

March 2, 2018 – Horse and livestock haulers got some good news last week when the FMCSA published updates to their agricultural exemptions. These updates clarified the hours of service and CDL requirements for those who transport live animals – whether as a hobby or for profit. These revisions came just a few weeks before the ELD exemption for agricultural haulers is set to expire.

The big news, is that you won’t be required to follow federal hours of service regulations or hold a CDL if you’re transporting horses or animals to shows, events or for another personal reason. In other words, if the transportation is not part of a business, the FMCSA considers you exempt. The same goes for the private transport of boats, cars and similar items:

“In these cases, when the transportation in question is not business related (neither for compensation, nor where the driver is engaged in an underlying business related to the move), none of the regulatory requirements apply, even if prize or scholarship money is offered.”

While this has technically always been the case, questions have arisen lately that had many in the industry unsure what their legal requirements were – and whether they suddenly should start logging their hours. This confusion extended to enforcement officials, some of whom began issuing warnings and fines to private haulers for hours of service and CDL violations, often to the surprise of drivers who had been able to operate independently of federal regulations in the past.

It’s important to remember, however, that just because the federal DOT doesn’t require you to hold a CDL, doesn’t mean your state will allow you to operate without one. It’s always a good idea to check with your state’s licensing agency to ensure you’re operating compliantly.

Updates for Commercial Drivers

Many of the updates made last week were for the non-commercial transport of horses and livestock. However, there was a waiver given to commercial drivers, as well. In response to industry concerns over animal welfare, the 30-minute break requirement will be waived when live animals or bees are on the vehicle.

If you’d like to read more about the FMCSA’s agricultural exemptions, you’ll find them here:

About the Author

Lindsey Bergeron is Editor of the Foley blog. Serving as transportation guru, she keeps an eye on the industry and its day-to-day evolution and developments, specifically writing about the various lifestyle, business and regulatory topics that are most relevant to motor carriers. Holding a degree in Journalism and Political Science from the University of Connecticut, she ran a successful content marketing firm before joining Foley at its Hartford hub. Her current expertise in transportation writing is built upon an extensive background in editing, feature writing and content development.

28 thoughts on “FMCSA Clarifies Ag Exemptions for Horse and Livestock Haulers”

  1. Canada should be concidering changing the rules on what is for hier , and what is for private transporting of horses. Because this is going to kill people wanting to go to horse shows.and sales of smaller horse traileres. Safetys are impotant . commercial lic. No.

  2. I feel the exemption of (horses going to shows) needs to be re-worded. As trainers take client horses (in training) to shows all around the country and charge an amount for hauling each one outside of training fees. Also, some of these are semi rigs being operated with no CDL. Hours of operation needs to also be enforced outside 100 mile radius as some shows are across the country putting everyone on the road in danger.

  3. You need that service especially since you are inside the
    trucking business. It’s best to always give commercial trucks space to answer
    aany potential outcome. Limited coverage is less expense when compared with maximum or extensive coverage.

  4. So I have a semi tractor and a big horse trailer with the GVW over 26000 do I need a CDL to operate that privately not for hire

  5. Hello, this is Yudit a carrier owner, please i have an important quastion! Some people are talking about a new exception period 3 month for agricultural carrier! That’s true?! And thabk you for keeping us on news!

  6. in ND the DOT are giving tickets for Companies with Hopper trailers hauling Fertilizer.
    They say it’s not AG exempt.
    What do you people think?

    1. Hi William, It would depend on where you’re hauling the fertilizer to/from. To be exempt, one of the following situations would need to apply to the load you’re hauling:

      1) Agricultural commodities from the source of the agricultural commodities to a location within a 150 air-mile radius from the source;

      (2) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale or retail distribution point of the farm supplies to a farm or other location where the farm supplies are intended to be used within a 150 air-mile radius from the distribution point; or

      (3) Farm supplies for agricultural purposes from a wholesale distribution point of the farm supplies to a retail distribution point of the farm supplies within a 150 air-mile radius from the wholesale distribution point.

  7. My truck is an F450 GVWR 13,500 My horse trailer has two 6000lbs Axles which the GVWR is 12000, I am coming in at 25000lbs, I don’t need a CDL or Do? I have been to DMV my trailer has a dressing room which was ordered insulated lined AC and so on, couch, So do I need on or not…yes my Truck is bigger than the trailer, I wanted more truck incase I purchased a much heavier trailer later on in life,

    1. Hi Cynthia, A CDL is required to drive any combination of vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds. As long as your vehicle and trailer weigh less, you won’t need one to haul your horse trailer

    1. Hi Ben, I’d recommend you call our compliance department at (800) 253-5506. They can walk you through your requirements.

  8. If you deliver livestock to another state [over 500 miles], for hire [not your product], and are under the 26,000 lb [pickup and light trailer] weight. Are you required to have a CDL AND comply with mileage and time in service rules?

    1. Hi Gary, If the Gross Combination Weight of your vehicle and trailer is over 10,0000 pounds you’ll need to comply with federal hours of service rules. However, you won’t need a CDL unless your truck weighs more than 26,000 pounds.

  9. a) do state rules supersede federal, (or vice versa)?
    b) where do we “go” to find state rules for CA?

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